6 Questions Answered About VOG, Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Air in Hawaii

What is VOG?

VOG is the acronym for Volcanic smog, the hazy air pollution caused by an erupting volcano. The exact make-up of VOG actually changes depending on how much time the volcanic plume has had to react in the atmosphere. The haze is mostly a mixture of water vapor (H20), carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas.

Regions closer to the vents can be exposed to both SO2 gas and fine particles during periods of VOG.

Areas downwind are mostly affected by fine particle pollution, also a serious health hazard.

What is Laze?

Laze is the name given to the pollution caused as molten lava flows into the ocean and reacts with sea water. The resulting steam plumes are made up of hydrochloric acid. Inhaling laze can irritate the eyes and respiratory system.

How much sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) does Kilauea emit per day?

According to the USGS, during periods of sustained eruption, Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano sends out between 500 and 14,000 metric tons of noxious sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) daily.

What are the health hazards of SO2 and VOG

Inhaling SO2 and VOG particularly irritates the nose, throat and respiratory system. It can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and a tight feeling in the chest. People with asthma and other respiratory ailments are most at risk. Other sensitive groups include:.

  • People with cardiovascular disease
  • The elderly
  • Infants and children
  • Expectant mothers

Can a dust mask help with SO2 and VOG

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) does not recommend the use of paper or cloth dust masks or even respirators. Masks can be ineffective, especially for children as these types of masks don’t fit a child as well as an adult. Facial hair can also interfere with the fit.

Can I remove VOG and SO2 from my indoor air with an air purifier?

Fine particles and SO2 gas can be removed by specialized air purifiers. Remember that particles filters are not designed to remove gases, odors and chemicals. If the unit you are considered only has a HEPA filter it cannot treat gases. Air purifiers with thin odor filters will also quickly become overwhelmed. Look for units with deep-bed activated carbon filters and fine particle filtration.

For more information on air purifiers for VOG or SO2 reach out to one of our air quality experts via live chat, phone or email or visit our VOG/SO2 air purifiers page. AllerAir has been treating VOG and SO2 since 2008.

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